Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Summertime Rumble! Beach Toys vs. School Supplies

Beach Toys vs. School Supplies, by Mike Ciccotello, (June 2021, Farrar Straus and Giroux), $17.99, ISBN: 9780374314040

Ages 3-6

It’s beach toys versus school supplies in a sandcastle contest to beat all sandcastle contests! Shovel is relaxing at the beach when Ruler shows up to start working. Shovel doesn’t want to think about school just yet! The two decide to find out who’s better – beach toys or school supplies – with a sandcastle building contest, and the two teams set to work. Just as the winner is determined, a big wave threatens to wipe out one of the castles: will the two groups work together to save the castle and enjoy the summer?

An adorable look at the balance between work and play, Beach Toys vs. Sand Castles is filled with fun and wry observations about both sides: the school supplies naturally only want to work and appear pompous, while the beach toys are all about fun. Messages about teamwork and respecting the need for a work and play balance come across playfully and with equal weight to both sides. Cartoon artwork is colorful, with anthropomorphic supplies bearing fun, exaggerated expressions. Endpapers show the toys and supplies standing off against one another; look for my favorite, the backpack, pocket unzippered to reveal a menacing box of colored pencils shaking a fist.

Absolute fun, with a free, downloadable activity kit, to boot! Find it here. Read this to your preschoolers and kindergarteners who may be annoyed by already seeing school supplies creeping back into stores and assure them that there’s room for both.

Posted in Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Susanne Strasser creates board books with a sense of fun!

I read board books at my lapsit storytime every week, and I’m always looking out for fun, new board books. Ones that I can read to babies and toddlers, and ones that keep it interesting. This past weekend, I came across two board books by Susanne Strasser that fit the bill: So Light, So Heavy, and So Far Up.

So Far Up, by Susanne Strasser,
(Jan. 2018, Charlesbridge), $7.99, ISBN: 9781580898485
Recommended for readers 0-3

Bear sees a tasty cake in the highest window of a tall house. It’s so high up, and Bear is so far down! Maybe some of his animal friends can help. As each animal stacks on top of another, the text repeats, adding a new sound effect, making for some fun interaction with listeners: Boingaboing! Hippity Hop! An unexpected twist takes the story to a sweet ending for all. The artwork is calming – that turquoise background is very relaxing – and the text allows kids to name their animals, while avoiding the “same old song and dance” territory.

So Light, So Heavy, by Susanne Strasser,
(Jan. 2018, Charlesbridge), $7.99, ISBN: 9781580898492
Recommended for readers 0-3

Elephant wants to use the teeter-totter, but it won’t tip! Different animals come along to help tip the scales, but it’s no good: they’re so light, and elephant is so heavy. Wait a minute – here comes the child from So Far Up, with another unexpected twist!

Both books introduce and reinforce concepts in an unexpected, amusing way that will get readers and storytellers alike laughing. So Light, So Heavy is also a good choice for a science storytime, when discussing balance (along with Ellen Stoll Walsh’s Balancing Act). I’ll be adding these to my board book shelves, for sure.